If you don’t want to crash, a new study says, don’t drive distracted.
“Ok,” you think. “I’m safe. I know that distracted driving is extremely dangerous, so I don’t text while I’m driving.”
Did you know, however, that the study—published in the New England Journal of Medicine—found that almost any type of “secondary activity” distracts you?
Distracted driving isn’t just texting behind the wheel (though it is one of the most dangerous activities you can perform while operating a vehicle). Distracted driving also includes dialing, talking, eating, drinking, reaching for objects, and adjusting controls. Even “rubbernecking,” or staring at a crash scene as you drive by, counts.
According to an AL.com report, researchers studied 42 newly licensed drivers aged 16 and 17 and 109 adult drivers. The study, which lasted 18 months, monitored the drivers using vehicles with cameras, GPS, and sensors.
The study found what some might consider eye-opening results.
Dialing was the most risky activity (texting wasn’t studied), increasing the risk of a crash by eight times for teens and two times for adults.
Eating while driving came in as the second-riskiest activity after dialing. Chowing down behind the wheel increased the odds of a crash by three times for teens and 1.26 times for adults.
Finally, adjusting the controls in your car (other than the radio, heating, or A/C) raised the risk of a crash 2.6 times for teens and 0.7 times for adults.
When driving, make sure to avoid any activity that distracts you from driving. If you have teenage children (or even younger children), it’s crucial that you set a good example. Because of their inexperience, teens are even more at risk for a crash when driving distracted.
For more information on distracted driving, please read our earlier blog posts or read our distracted driving page. If you’ve been injured in an accident with a distracted driver, please contact us to learn what your rights are.